Sanford claims Super Bowl defense in trespassing
April 17th, 2013
12:27 PM ET
9 years ago

Sanford claims Super Bowl defense in trespassing

(CNN) – Mark Sanford's bid for Congress in South Carolina was dealt a major blow Wednesday when national Republicans said they would no longer support him after learning his ex-wife accused him of illegally entering her home.

"Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in this special election," Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement.

The accusations of trespassing leveled at Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina governor, by his ex-wife Jenny Sanford arose after he visited his son to watch the Super Bowl.

"I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn't think he should watch it alone," Mark Sanford wrote. "Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened."

The explanation came the day after news broke Sanford has been ordered to appear in court two days after the May election in which he's contending to become South Carolina's next congressman. On Wednesday, Sanford went up with his first general election ad criticizing Democratic rival Elizabeth Colbert Busch, and a national Democratic group said it was beginning a six-figure campaign against Sanford.

Jenny Sanford claims in court documents she saw her ex-husband leaving her Sullivan's Island home on Feb. 3, roughly three weeks after Mark Sanford announced his bid for Congress.

"It's an unfortunate reality that divorced couples sometimes have disagreements that spill over into family court," Mark Sanford wrote in his statement. "I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn't think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened."

Read more: First on CNN: Sanford warned about trespassing in 2011

The couple were divorced in 2010 after the then-governor admitted he was carrying on an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina. He finished out his gubernatorial term in 2011 and has since become engaged to the same woman.

On Tuesday, Jenny Sanford wrote in a message to CNN, "I understood [the documents] were to have remained part of the sealed divorce docs. This is a private matter and I have no further comment."

Sanford said in his statement he is "particularly curious how records that were sealed to avoid the boys dealing with embarrassment are now somehow exposed less than three weeks before this election."

He said he agreed with his ex-wife that the "media is no place to debate what is ultimately a family court matter."

Seeking political redemption, Sanford won the Republican primary this month in a race to fill the 1st District seat left vacant when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott to the Senate late last year.

It's the same district Sanford represented in Congress before becoming governor.

As he deals with the trespassing controversy, Sanford is also going on the attack against his Democratic opponent. In his first TV commercial since he became the GOP nominee, Sanford highlights Colbert Busch's union ties.

"Elizabeth Colbert Busch says she knows jobs and will be independent, but she's not telling you that she's supported by labor unions," says the female narrator in the 30-second spot. "Nearly $30,000 in checks from big labor, even from the union who tried to shut down Boeing and ship a thousand jobs out of South Carolina."

The Sanford campaign confirms to CNN that the ad will start running Wednesday through April 22, and that the campaign will spend nearly $100,000 to run the spot on broadcast and cable television in the Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia markets, which cover nearly all of South Carolina's 1st Congressional District. The campaign is also running the ad on radio in Charleston and Hilton Head, South Carolina.

National Journal first reported the new Sanford commercial.

Also Wednesday, a political action committee that backs Democratic House candidates, announced that it would begin a three-week, six-figure media campaign. As part of that push, House Majority PAC unveiled its first TV ad which attacks Sanford's image as a fiscal conservative.

"Mark Sanford may claim to be a fiscal conservative, but as governor he flew around the world in high style – even jetting to the dentist and a hair dresser – and stuck South Carolinians with the $400,000 bill," said House Majority PAC Communications Director Andy Stone, in announcing the new spot, titled "Air Sanford."

Sanford and Colbert Bush, sister of satirist and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert, face off in a May 7 special election for the seat that Sanford held for three terms before being elected governor in 2002.

CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Peter Hamby, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Joe

    What does the fact he us a republican have to do with this as so many posters are referring to?

    April 17, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |

    just a typical man and wife and in a divorce. Having been through a few of these, I can just hear the back and forth.
    Matter of fact I can hear my ex-wife's voice and read her lawyers documents.

    April 17, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  3. sqeptiq

    @republican Family Values: It's impossible to embarrass anything republican.

    April 17, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  4. w_roos

    What a clown. A true conservative republican to the core.

    April 17, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  5. komododr

    Hahahahaha........but voters in his distrtict will vote for him because they can relate his predicament with them. He can lie to his teeth and they would still vote for him. The GOP party may distance from him or so its seems but it will support him financially. And its the folks in his district that really counts.

    April 17, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  6. bankerken

    Mr. Sanford if you were truly concerned about your son watching the Super Bowl by himself, then you would have honored every word of your wedding vows. It's amazing how hypocritical these guys are. Family values party, really!!!

    April 17, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  7. DocHollywood

    Why, you ask, would this be relevant in his current quest for a return to the political scene? Because this shows that he is a man who thinks, once again, that he can do anything he thinks is right for him and ignore any and all rules that apply. If he did not want his son to see the game by himself, why didn't he use that cell phone and call his son to come over to his house? Sanford is a pathological liar.

    April 17, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  8. Lenny Pincus

    Mom's mad because the girlfriend showed up at his victory rally the night of the election–the first time the two sons met her. This guy is a dunce.

    April 17, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  9. Jl Taylor

    This guy is a clown looking for a new stage. Mr Sanford wants to impress his new girl by getting back into
    the national spotlight.

    April 17, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
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